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Children's Fiction Friendship

Ella May and the Wishing Stone

by (author) Cary Fagan

illustrated by Geneviève Côté

Initial publish date
Aug 2011
Friendship, Values & Virtues, Imagination & Play
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2011
    List Price

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Where to buy it

Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels

  • Age: 4 to 6
  • Grade: p to 1


One day, Ella May finds a stone that has a line going all-all-all the way around it. Surely a stone this special must grant wishes, she decides. Soon she is busy making wishes and bragging about them. When her friends want to share the fun, Ella May objects. But she soon learns that keeping the stone for herself is a sure way to lose friends. By using her imagination – much more powerful than any stone – she is able to grant everybody’s wishes, including her own.

Cary Fagan’s witty and sharply observed story will delight young readers who are beginning to explore the pleasures and challenges of sharing and friendship.

About the authors

Cary Fagan is the author of eight previous novels and five books of short stories, including The Student, Great Adventures for the Faint of Heart, and A Bird's Eye. He has been nominated for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Writers' Trust Fiction Award, the Governor General's Literary Award for Fiction, and has won the Toronto Book Award and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for Fiction. He is also an acclaimed writer of books for children, having won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, the IODE Jean Throop Book Award, a Mr. Christie Silver Medal, the Joan Betty Stuchner—Oy Vey!—Funniest Children's Book Award, and the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People. Fagan's work has been translated into French, Italian, German, Dutch, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, Russian, Polish, Chinese, Korean and Persian. He still lives in his hometown of Toronto.

Cary Fagan's profile page



Enfant, Geneviève Côté adorait dessiner. Elle s'inventait des histoires simplement pour le plaisir de les illustrer. Au fil des ans, elle a continué à nourrir sa passion pour le dessin et les arts, si bien qu'elle a décidé d'en faire une carrière. Après avoir étudié les arts et la communication au Cégep, elle a terminé, en 1987, un baccalauréat en infographie à l'Université Concordia, à Montréal. Geneviève a illustré plus de 25 livres pour enfants. Comme auteure-illustratrice, elle a publié chez Scholastic Quel éléphant? et Je suis là, Petit Lundi. Elle a reçu le Prix du Gouverneur général pour ses illustrations en 2007. Geneviève vit à Montréal et travaille dans un atelier du centre-ville.


Geneviève Côté
studied art and graphic design at Concordia University in Montreal. She has
illustrated numerous books for children. She also enjoys writing her own
stories: Quel éléphant? (What Elephant?) and Je suis là, petit Lundi (With You Always, Little Monday)
were the first books that she both wrote and illustrated. Côté's editorial
art has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and other
publications. Her books have received three nominations for the Governor
General's Award for Illustration, one of which she went on to win. She has
also won the Elizabeth Mrazik-Cleaver Award.


Geneviève Côté's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“…Fagan believably captures the delicate balance of friendship in the very young and lets the story play out with welcome complexity. Côté's illustrations are simple without being cartoonish, demonstrating the same warm understanding of childhood. Thoughtful and Touching”
Kirkus Reviews

“…Cary Fagan… does a great job here with both the fun, engaging story, and the fine tricks of repetition and structure that make Ella May and the Wishing Stone ideal for early reader. Geneviève Côté’s watercolour illustrations are lively and simple, focusing on the kids themselves and hewing closely to the narrative…. The net result is an original and imaginative treatment of one of the hardest lessons of early childhood –sharing –in a colourful package that’s likely to charm kids and adults alike.”
Quill & Quire

“Côté’s…illustrations drive the story along with light and expressive outlines and wash effects… children won’t have any difficulty following the action, and they’ll recognize Ella’s conflicting impulses.”
—Publishers Weekly

“…the little girl uses her imagination to reconnect with her friends, and realizes that they are far more important than wishes. Ultimately, she is able to grant everyone’s wishes, including her own.”
The Waterloo Region Record

“…The charming drawings by Geneviève Côté depict a late summer’s day on the sidewalk. It’s easy to forgive Ella May when she finally comes to her senses and realizes that friends are much more important than possessions….”
Montreal Review of Books

Librarian Reviews

Ella May and the Wishing Stone

The importance of nurturing and maintaining friendships threads its way through Ella May and the Wishing Stone. Ella May has returned from the beach with a treasure – an ordinary rock with a narrow white band encircling it. She brags to her friends, “It’s a wishing stone... Now all my dreams will come true.” As she demonstrates the rock’s apparently magical powers, her audience fails to realize that her wishes are announced only after they have already happened. The illusion excites everyone so much that they all clamour to hold the wondrous item. “Oh no. It’s too special,” says Ella May. Not to be deterred, the playmates now search for their own special stones, only to have their enthusiasm dampened when their selections are ridiculed outright. Ella May soon finds herself very much alone. Realizing the error of her ways, she yearns for companionship again. Through sheer ingenuity, Ella May finds a way to grant everyone’s wish, including her own.

Author Cary Fagan has written an insightful tale about the importance of fostering friendship through sharing and treating others with respect. Aptly described is the range of Ella May’s emotions from joy and a sense of empowerment to loneliness and regret. Readers will recognize the dilemna our heroine finds herself in: “I wish I could have my friends back... I wish I didn’t even have this old wishing stone.” A difficult lesson learned – “Be careful what you wish for!”

Geneviève Côté’s digital illustrations have a light and energetic style that sets the scene for a memorable summer day. The cartoonlike characters, though simple in outline, have expressive faces conveying their inner thoughts.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2011. Volume 34 No. 4.

Ella May and the Wishing Stone

Ella May finds a stone with a line going all-all-all the way around it and is convinced it’s magical. When her friends want to join in on the fun and make wishes with her, Ella May objects. She soon learns that keeping the stone and the wishes all to herself isn’t as much fun as sharing.

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. Fall, 2012.

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